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Cities, Heritage

UDC conducts heritage walk for F5 Escapes

Last weekend, five, intrepid women travellers from Bangalore arrived here to explore Pondicherry and Auroville. The group included a retiree, two IT professionals, and a full-time mom with her eight-year old daughter in tow, all led by Malini Gowrishankar of F5 Escapes.

As part of their travel experience, UDC took the group on a heritage walk through the Boulevard Town. We started at Le Cafe on the Beach Promenade, with an introduction to Pondicherry’s maritime history, and how the rise and fall of several aspiring rulers, and a diverse range of cultural influences through the ages, gives this part of town its unique urban form.

It always takes visitors a while to register the difference between the shared-wall layout of the Boulevard Town, and the contemporary, stand-alone building typology that they are used to…

As the women took in the beauty of the French and Tamil courtyard homes, churches, temples, and public buildings; their vibrant colours, architectural details, and the stories of the various personalities that contributed to the town’s growth, there were exclamations of, “this feels so different from Bangalore…” “It’s so quiet and peaceful here,” and “I can’t believe I am walking through the streets of Pondicherry!”

We were lucky to witness a wedding at Dumas Church, and the Masi Magam parades through the streets of the Tamil Quarter. The walk ended at the office of Intach Pondicherry, providing a good example of a restored Franco-Tamil house, and giving our travellers an insight into the process of heritage conservation.


Five women from Bangalore set out to explore the Boulevard Town. Photo credit: F5 Escapes

F5 Escapes is the brainchild of Malini Gowrishankar, with a vision towards building a strong community of women travelers throughout India, and bringing a social perspective to travel by involving local communities in the travel experience. Visit f5escapes.com to know more about their initiatives.

UDC welcomes requests for theme-based, experiential city and neighborhood walks in Chennai and Pondicherry. Our walks focus on heritage, culture, society, art, and ecology in the urban environment. If you would like to walk with us, write to us at urbandesigncollective@gmail.com.


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